Having interlamellar spacings on the nanometer scale, there is no doubt about considering heavily drawn pearlitic steel wire as a nano-layered material. This extremely fine structure is of great technical importance: indeed, as the interlamellar distance determines the onset of plastic flow, the wire can be brought to a tensile strength beyond 4000 MPa and is therefore one of the strongest materials on the market nowadays.
At extremely large strains (well beyond ε = 4) and/or at moderate temperatures, the pearlitic steel loses its strength. Several possible failure mechanisms, like fragmentation of the cementite or thermal and strain-induced cementite dissolution, are put forward, but until now, there is no definite understanding of the really active mechanism.
In the present work, the calorimetric differential scanning technique, in combination with thermopower measurements and the high-resolution atomic force microscopy, have turned out to be most promising tools to reveal some of the mechanisms that are responsible for the degradation of the lamellar aggregate.